Greens Push For National Water Centre

Bension Siebert, Indaily, 24 June 2016

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The research centre is the latest pledge from the Greens as next week’s July 2 federal election looms.

Under the plan, the institute would be given almost $27 million per year to conduct research on sustainable agriculture, water recycling, stormwater harvesting, water-sensitive urban design and water efficiency.

Greens water spokesperson Robert Simms told InDaily it would ideally be based in Adelaide’s CBD – either within some of the city’s vacant office space or in an entirely new building.

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“It would be a really exciting opportunity for … Adelaide to be put on the map when it comes to water sustainability,” Simms said.

He said the institute would “bring together the brightest minds and expertise in this field” to provide independent evidence to government on how to use water more sustainably.

“This is something I’ll continue to push if I’m re-elected,” said the first-term South Australian senator, who was elevated to the federal parliament out of the Adelaide City Council to fill a vacancy left by then-Greens senator Penny Wright.

Simms conceded the Greens would not have the numbers in Parliament to establish the institute, but would have to rely on either the Labor Party or the Coalition to make it part of their policy platform.

“We advocate for other parties to take these [ideas] up,” he said.

“If returned to the parliament I’d continue to advocate for it.”

Both major parties have distanced themselves from the Greens during the election campaign, with Labor rejecting Coalition claims it would form a minority government alliance with the Greens in the event of a hung parliament.
But Simms said he believed the major parties would not dismiss a good idea only because it originated with the Greens.

“It would be terrific if the Labor Party or the Liberal Party were to take this up.”

He said now was a good time to establish the institute because the state was not in drought, and needed to prepare for the effects of climate change on the availability of water resources.

Simms said Adelaide was developing a reputation as a world-leader in tackling climate change, but that research into water sustainability was often overlooked by governments.

He said the Parliamentary Budget Office had costed the plan at $26.7 million per year.

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